Here is a piece of interesting news for local freelancers who are continuing to pay their Social Security System (SSS) dues as voluntary members as well as other SSS members who might be interested in fortifying their retirement fund.
SSS president and CEO Emilio de Quiros Jr. recently announced that SSS is offering a new program called SSS Personal Equity and Savings Option (SSS PESO), a tax-free alternative investment fund open to all qualified SSS members (employed, voluntary, self-employed, overseas Filipino workers [OFW]).
SSS PESO is intended to enable members to build up income for their retirement and earn reasonable returns. According to the SSS, savings in this new fund will be invested in sovereign guaranteed investments, and that 65% will be allocated for retirement whereas 35% is apportioned for medical and general purposes.
According to de Quiros, “The portion for retirement is guaranteed to earn income based on interest rates of five-year Treasury yields, while earnings of the fund allotted for medical and general purposes will be based on 364-day Treasury bill rates.” Aside from the guaranteed earnings, fund members may also accrue additional earnings (which will be automatically credited to their accounts), depending on how well the fund has performed for the entire year.
Eligible members can participate in this program by putting in a minimum amount of P1,000 up to P100,000 annually. Membership will start as soon the SSS payee has placed his/her first contribution. De Quiros also added that, “succeeding SSS PESO Fund contributions can be made anytime as long as there is a corresponding SSS contribution on the month of contribution.”
Any member is qualified as long as:
- You are below 55 years of age.
- You must have made at least six (6) consecutive payments in the last 12 months prior to enrollment.
- You have not yet filed any final claims with the SSS.
- Important NOTE: All voluntary, self-employed, and OFW members must be paying the maximum SSS contribution to qualify for this program (P1,760 based on the latest SSS contribution table).
Savings in this fund can be withdrawn on the effective date of a member’s retirement or in the event of total disability. Note that SSS will be charging a 1% annual administration fee for handling this type of account. Also, if a member decides to withdraw his/her funds early (less than 5 years), it will be subject to penalties and service fees. It should also be noted that early withdrawals can only come from the 35% share of a member’s total contributions (allocated for medical and general purposes).
For more information on the SSS voluntary retirement fund (launched on Sept. 25, 2014), here is the official SSS link to this announcement.
Hmm… this reminds me of Personal Equity Retirement Account (PERA), which was signed into law eons ago and was supposed to have been implemented already — but has never completely managed to get off the ground. They have been planning, planning, and planning for PERA implementation for years. (What are they waiting for, I wonder — for the sky to turn pink?) Oh well. I’m still waiting for anybody who has actually opened a PERA account to say (write/blog/announce/share) anything about that fund.